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The Bear of Echizen

A "world of fire, a world all dark, totally red ..."

Kumano at shrine

Welcome to the home page of Kumano Kurôemon (熊野九郎右ヱ門), a unique wood-fire art potter who toils in isolation in the snow country on the "back side" of Japan.

Kumano shaping a large vaseThis site is maintained by admirers of Kumano who believe his powerful works in clay stand out like volcanoes on the rim of the Japanese pottery tradition — distinctive, beautiful, challenging — and should be experienced by as many lovers of ceramics as possible worldwide.

Kumano's production is small and his pieces until fairly recently were rarely seen outside of Japan (see Writings links). However, a large solo exhibition was hosted by Germany's Keramikmuseum Westerwald in 2004-05, followed by a month-long workshop at Fachhochschule Koblenz in 2006, so at least some Europeans are getting to know the man and his work a little better.

Similarly, in the United States, a few years ago Kumano led a highly acclaimed workshop in Piedmont College (Athens, Georgia). He returned September 16-19, 2016, and held a workshop at Bridgewater State University (Bridgewater, Massachusetts), from September 21-23, 2016.

New Sale Pieces for Spring (May) 2024

Dear friends,

I am very pleased to report that the health of the Bear of Echizen is good and that he was able to conduct a very successful firing at the end of 2023. What came out of his anagama this time was a cornucopia of noteworthy Kuma-Shino pieces — the type where the arctic ice/tropical sea blue surfaces run very deep and yield ethereal cherry blossoms embedded in crystalline pools and tiny gemstones sparkling in interstellar space. Lava flows also may come to mind, as well as simply a delicious creamy confectionary.

The kiln alchemy that produces such extraordinary effects is unpredictable, and rarely do so many special Kuma-Shino pieces (plus a few Oribe ones) emerge from a single firing.

In truth, Kumano and his wife were hesitant to see so much magic leave their possession at the same time. Unusual this update in terms of piece shapes is the pair of curved "shards," lovely objects that could serve just as easily as sushi platters. Also, coffee cup & saucer sets are rarely offered, and this time there are two exceptional sets.

The historically weak yen represents yet another reason why this update offers a great opportunity. Do feel free to contact me with any questions.

To access this May update, please click below.

Go to update May 2024

We look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

Peter Ujlaki

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano and his pandemic project, a wooden sculpture of a nature deity,
in the style of Enkû (円空 1632–1695), a Japanese Buddhist monk, poet,
and sculptor famous for carving some 120,000 wooden statues o
of Buddha and other Buddhist icons (photo late 2023)

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano, his wife Kyoko, and Peter (photo late 2023)

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano, Peter's partner Kayoko, and Kyoko, late 2023

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano and his wife Kyoko at lunch, early November 2022

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano and Peter in the studio, early November 2022

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano Kurôemon in his studio, late November 2021

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Peter Ujlaki with Kumano Kurôemon in July 2020

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
The Bear sketches one of his famous road maps as Kyoko (his wife)
and Kayoko (Peter's partner) look on (2018)

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Inside Kumano Kurôemon's kiln after 2017 firing

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano Kurôemon with grandchildren 2017

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano Kurôemon with his painting Blood Serum A

Kumano, Peter, Kyoko
Kumano Kurôemon, Peter Ujlaki, and Kumano Kyoko 2014


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